On local TV in Hong Kong I have discovered an uplifting programme called Golden Age. This offers insights into the lives of those of advancing years, illustrating how they contribute so fully still to society. This week the programme featured Auyeung Nai Chim (also written as Au Yeung), or Uncle Jim.
To quote, if I may, from an Exhibition biography:
The programme showed how this active 80-year-old sets off each day with his bag and then settles down to sketch or paint. Invariably he attracts an admiring audience. It led me to think about the time and consideration that goes into embarking on each piece of work he produces. How similar is to photography? With the countless photos taken each day I suspect the vast majority are truly “snaps” – a momentary impulse that something looks nice. No longer ‘one for Mr.Kodak’ perhaps and more frequently one for the delete button. I wondered how many fewer images would be taken if we stopped like Uncle Jim to think about what it was we wanted to finish up with and if we built the finished image, post processing, in our minds before we pressed the shutter fully down. What would the quality be if we spent half an hour determining the precise image we wanted in the viewfinder, the light, the focal points, the balance, the geometry…..? Or an hour or more.
Maybe Uncle Jim has the luxury of time, experience and the eye of an artist. But I think there is a lesson to be learned, that less is more. The whole series is inspiring and reassuring, the joy of growing old laid bare for all to see. Many of these people have very little in the way of material possessions and live in cluttered minimalism. The glass is full. No time to be less than that. Time for me to slow down and jettison a lot of baggage?
If only I can find the discipline in both photography and life. To round off, here are a couple of images of my favourite local senior citizen…….
And 12 months on…
I have never seen her without a smile on her face. Lucky lady.